This Writ Petition involves a challenge to the order of dismissal passed by the Disciplinary Authority, the order of the Appellate Authority as well as the order of the Reviewing Authority being violative of the Principle of Natural Justice and violative of Rule 68 & 69 of the State Bank of the India Officers’ Rules, 1992.
Brief Facts of the Case
The petitioner of this case joined as a Clerk at Butupali ABD, Boudh. While working as such, petitioner was promoted many times and lastly, he was promoted as Branch Manager to Ullunda Branch. Petitioner was placed under suspension pending investigation on allegation of suspicious transactions. Petitioner was asked to explain on the private and confidential letter of Regional Manager, involving suspicious transactions. Petitioner while furnishing detailed explanation denying the allegations levelled against him also refused to furnish any written statement of confession in the closed chamber of Chief Manager. Petitioner was communicated with another letter of Regional Manager making serious allegations to have been committed by the petitioner while he was working as a Branch Manager, but the petitioner furnished his explanation denying the allegations.
Being not satisfied with his explanation, the Disciplinary Authority decided to initiate a disciplinary proceeding under Rule 68 (1) (i) read with Rule 68 (2) (ii) of the State Bank of the India Officers’ Rules, 1992. Basing on the initiation of the disciplinary proceeding and asking him to file his written statement of defence, the petitioner furnished his written statement of defence denying all the allegations and explaining his innocence. Explanation of the petitioner was found unsatisfactory and inquiry report was submitted.
It was alleged that Disciplinary Authority without furnishing the copy of Inquiry Report to the petitioner, accepted the alleged guilty as found in the inquiry report and thereafter furnished a copy of inquiry report asking the petitioner to submit his explanation. Petitioner furnished his submission alleging that without considering his reply, the Disciplinary Authority on the proposed punishment, called upon the petitioner to appear before him for personal hearing, pursuant to which the petitioner appeared and explained his position denied the charges. It was, however, admitted that the Appointing Authority after giving personal hearing to the petitioner, accepted the recommendation made by the Disciplinary Authority and thereby inflicting upon the petitioner punishment of dismissal.
Aggrieved upon this, the petitioner preferred a review to the Reviewing Authority, but this authority without providing reasonable opportunity of hearing, rejected his review.
Arguments before the Court
The learned counsel of petitioner challenged the imposition of punishment on the petitioner on the premises that there had been a violation of the Principle of Natural Justice. The learned counsel also urged that even the petitioner was not provided with an opportunity of personal hearing either by the Appellate Authority or the Reviewing Authority.
To support his case, in the matter of Violation of Natural Justice, the learned counsel referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Oryx Fisheries and also another decision of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the matter of the Managing Director, ECIL, Hyderabad, which contended that the entire disciplinary proceeding suffers and as a consequence, the order of the Appellate Authority as well as the Revisional Authority also to be declared as bad.
The learned counsel of the respondents contended that there are serious allegations of misappropriation of huge amounts and misconduct against the petitioner while he was working as Branch Manager of Ullunda Branch of State Bank of India involving several unauthorized transactions have come to the notice of the Disciplinary Authority. It is also contended by the learned counsel that the petitioner always had been asking to furnish his explanation, so there is no violation of Natural Justice.
Looking to the factual scenario, the pleadings of the parties and the materials available on record, this court found the petitioner involved in 12 charges involving unauthorizedly debited of several amounts and also opened a fake loan account.
Looking to the allegations and counter averments of the opposite parties, this court found there were no allegations on violation of natural justice during inquiry proceeding. Thus it appears, the inquiry proceeding has been concluded with reasonable opportunity.
It was also contended that this court found there is no absolute infirmity in following the provisions of State Bank of India Officers’ Rule 68 [Decision to initiate and Procedure for Disciplinary Action] & 69 [Dealing with Appeal & Review] for the opportunity of hearing either with the Appellate Authority or with the Reviewing Authority.
From the support of the case of State Bank of India & others v. B.R. Saini and in the case of Trilochan Dash v. Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Union Bank of India & Others [AIR 2002], the court decided that there had been sufficient opportunity of objection/hearing at every stage of the case, and subsequently found the ground raised in challenging the validity of the order of the Disciplinary Authority and of the Appellate Authority as well as the Revisional Authority on the premises of violation of natural justice has no leg to stand. The HC also contended that the punishment imposed cannot be held disproportionate because all charges are of serious nature.
Thus, in result, the Writ Petition stands dismissed for having no merit.
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